We asked our Associates to choose one of their projects they enjoyed and tell us why. Their answers surprised us. They all agreed it was difficult to choose just one, but beyond that, their top picks were extremely varied—in terms of building type, scale, design phase and, of course, the personal reasons for their selection. Their choices include newly constructed luxury condos, historic spaces that have been repurposed into housing or office and commercial space and new affordable housing communities. They are also widely different in scale—from an entire urban neighborhood to a door detail—and the design phases include initial master planning, construction administration, and all the design phases in between. Read on to get a window into the minds of our highly creative team of Associates.
According to a survey from the American Psychological Association, more than one third of American workers experience chronic work stress. Architects aren’t firefighters or policeman but architecture professionals rank in the top 10 “burnout” careers in America. Architects often face the pressure of turning out projects under very tight deadlines, while juggling building code, design problems and safety issues. They not only have the pressure to perform, but may feel they sacrifice their personal and family lives for their jobs.
Is achieving better work-life balance the answer? And if so, how can better balance be achieved by the hard-working architect? According to Cristobal Young, sociology professor at Stanford University, it’s not about adding free time to your day.. It is more an issue of coordinating the free time you do have with that of friends and family. Here at Marks, Thomas Architects we work to promote better balance by offering ways in which to be healthy, connected, and creative.
After a fainting episode, 80-something Lawson knew his family was right when they insisted he no longer live alone. But the place he moved to in Baltimore, though technically a nursing home, defies everything we’ve come to associate with the typical nursing home model. Like the other 10 to 12 residents in his “house,” Lawson enjoys a private room and private bathroom, which wraps around a central hearth (Living/Kitchen/Dining). At mealtimes, he can sit down around a large table with other residents and staff members to enjoy conversation and a home-cooked meal. Or if he’d prefer to have a peanut butter sandwich, that’s fine, too. On warm days, he can sit on the screened porch to watch kids play ball on the field across the way, or tend the pots of flowers growing there.
When architects are tasked with designing an addition or alteration to an existing building, the attitude and orientation of the new to the old is critical to the success of the design.
Should the new relate to the old? Should it boldly proclaim its difference or discreetly extend the look of the original? The answer, of course, depends on lots of factors: the age and quality of the original building, the replicability of its features, the size and scale of the addition relative to the original structure, the functional and site constraints dictating the location of the addition, the material and textural qualities of the original, whether the original is worth preserving, and more. What follows are a few very basic design strategies for deciding what form and appearance a building addition or alteration should take depending on the situation. Read more
In a recent blog post, Baby Boomers Will Demand Choices in Their Retirement, my colleague Faith Nevins touched on some of the lifestyle needs and expectations of today’s retiring seniors. Many choices addressing those needs and expectations have arisen over the past decade, and values such as maintaining or enhancing personal health and fitness, participation in stimulating experiences, and the desire to contribute to the community in meaningful ways have become strong motivators influencing retirement choices.
Seniors with mobility are looking at both small towns — especially near metropolitan areas with convenience to airports, medical facilities, arts and culture, and recreation nearby — for their generally friendly and simple lifestyle, as well as larger urban centers responding to the allure of stimulating cultural life, shopping, good public transportation, and an exciting lifestyle that may have been deferred while their kids were growing up.
Rents are soaring in this country, and during the last recession, there was an unprecedented growth in renters across all demographic groups. The combination of these factors is creating a “perfect storm” of housing unaffordability. On a recent “On Point” radio broadcast, Nela Richardson, the chief economist at real estate listing site Redfin, noted that in the last 10 years over nine million new renters have been added to the market. Rising rent costs mean that approximately 25 percent of renters are paying more than 50 percent of their income on rent, and many of these individuals are seniors. According to a recent study by HUD, 1.47 million elderly households are paying more than 50 percent of their income for rent. Why is this?
Typically, seniors’ incomes have remained flat while rents have increased at 3 percent annually in the last 10 years — the fastest growth rate in over 30 years. According to an August 2013 Long-Term Living article, one in three working Americans has no retirement savings other than Social Security and 35 percent over the age of 65 rely almost entirely on Social Security alone.
A new generation of seniors is approaching the age of retirement. The Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, are now between 52 and 70 years of age and have a very different view of the world and of aging than the Silent Generation (those born from 1925 to 1945), who now make up the majority of residents in senior living communities. The Boomer generation is more educated, wealthy, racially and ethnically diverse, and individualistic. Boomers also vowed they would never grow old.
So how does the future senior facility accommodate their needs and desires? There are several factors that will affect when, where, and how the Boomers will live in their senior years.
For our team at Marks, Thomas Architects, 2015 stood as another year of remarkable projects, informed by our clients, our collaborative problem-solving, and our vital respect for the history of our hometown of Baltimore. We explored new ways of visionary thinking through design, innovation, and community engagement.
We have highlighted some examples of themes, ideas, and projects that impacted us in 2015 through a selection of our notable blog posts below. Thank you for allowing us to share our thoughts and world views with you.